WHAT IS ALZHEIMER’S
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, behavior, and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Symptoms usually develop slowly and worsen over time, ultimately becoming serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death. Although Alzheimer’s disease develops differently for every individual, there are many common symptoms. In the early stages, the most common symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events, known as short term memory loss. When AD is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with tests that evaluate behavior and thinking abilities, often followed by a brain scan if available.  There is no cure for the disease.

ALZHEIMER’S IS NOT A NORMAL PART OF AGING

Age is the greatest risk factor but genetics also play a role. About 2% of people with Alzheimer’s have early onset Alzheimer’s, which often appears in someone in their 40s or 50s.

ALZHEIMER’S GETS WORSE OVER TIME

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that worsens over a number of years. In early stages, sufferers experience mild memory loss such as difficulty coming up with the right word or losing or misplacing a valuable object. Late-stage Alzheimer’s sufferers may experience loss of ability to carry on conversation and carry on daily tasks including eating and going to the toilet. Some may even lose the ability to smile and hold their heads up. Ultimately, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.


signs and symptoms: NORMAL aging vs EARLY ALZHEIMER’S SYMPTOMS

Most people experience some level of forgetfulness. Understanding the difference between normal and an early symptom of Alzheimer’s is an important step. Alzheimer’s disease begins slowly and in its early stages, appears as short-term memory loss. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate.

NORMALEARLY ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
Can't find your keysRoutinely place important items in odd places, such as keys in the fridge, wallet in the dishwasher
Search for casual names and wordsForget names of family members and common objects, or substitute words with inappropriate ones
Briefly forget conversation detailsFrequently forget entire conversations
Can't find a recipeCan't follow recipe directions
Feel the cold moreDress regardless of weather, wear several skirts on a warm day or shorts in a snow storm
Make occasional wrong turnGet lost in familiar places, don't remember how you got there or how to get home
Feel occasionally sadExperience rapid mood swings, from tears to rage, for no discernible reason

(Source: Helpguide)

STAGES OF ALZHEIMER’S

Alzheimer’s disease begins slowly and in its early stages, appears as short-term memory loss. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms or progress at the same rate.

The seven stage Global Deterioration Scale, also known as the Reisberg Scale, includes the following dimensions:

STAGEDESCRIPTION
1 – NO IMPAIRMENTMemory and cognitive abilities appear normal.
2 – MINIMAL IMPAIRMENT/NORMAL FORGETFULNESSMemory lapses and changes in thinking are rarely detected by friends, family, or medical personnel. May be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s.
3 – MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENTWhile subtle difficulties begin to impact function, the person may consciously or subconsciously try to cover up his or her problems. Difficulty with retrieving words, planning, organization, misplacing objects, and forgetting recent learning, which can affect life at home and work. Family, friends and co-workers begin to notice difficulties. Early stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some but not all individuals with these symptoms.
4 – MODERATE COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT/MILD ALZHEIMER’S DISEASEProblems handling finances result from mathematical challenges. Recent events and conversations are increasingly forgotten, although most people in this stage still know themselves and their family. Problems carrying out sequential tasks, including cooking, driving, ordering food at restaurants, and shopping. Often withdraw from social situations, become defensive, and deny problems. Accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is possible at this stage.
5 – EARLY DEMENTIA/MODERATE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASEDecline is more severe and requires outside assistance with day-to-day activities. No longer able to manage independently or recall personal history details and contact information. Frequently disoriented regarding place and or time. People in this stage experience a severe decline in numerical abilities and judgment skills, which can leave them vulnerable to scams and at risk from safety issues. Basic daily living tasks like eating and dressing require increased supervision. Still remember significant details about self and family and do not require assistance with eating or using a toilet.
6 – MIDDLE DEMENTIA/MODERATELY SEVERE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASEMemory continues to get worse and personality changes may take place. Total lack of awareness of present events and inability to accurately remember the past. People in this stage progressively lose the ability to take care of daily living activities like dressing, toileting, and eating but are still able to respond to nonverbal stimuli, and communicate pleasure and pain via behavior. Agitation and hallucinations often show up in the late afternoon or evening. Dramatic personality changes such as wandering or suspicion of family members are common. Many can’t remember close family members, but know they are familiar.
7 – LATE OR SEVERE DEMENTIA/SEVERE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASEIn this final stage, speech becomes severely limited, as well as the ability to walk or sit. My still say words or phrases, but lose ability to respond to environment, carry on conversation and control movement. Total support around the clock is needed for all functions of daily living and care.
FACTS AND FIGURES

You’ve probably heard some frightening statistics about Alzheimer’s. Read and learn the latest thought-provoking facts about Alzheimer’s and the impact it has on the people who have it, their caregivers, and society as a whole.












DIAGNOSIS

Early diagnosis offers the best hope to treat and manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. While there is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s, doctors today can accurately diagnose the presence of Alzheimer’s almost 90% of the time through a complete medical assessment using non-invasive methods. Diagnosis requires careful evaluation, including:

Medical history – such as questions about patient’s health, past medical problems, family history
Cognition tests – such as memory, problem solving, attention level, language, ability to perform daily tasks
Medical tests – such as blood and brain imaging

The first step is to find a doctor you are comfortable with. Many people contact their regular primary care physician or internist about their concerns. Primary care doctors often oversee the diagnostic process themselves or may refer you to a specialist. Specialists include neurologists, psychiatrists or psychologists.
Researchers have identified certain genes that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or deterministic genes that directly cause Alzheimer’s.


RISK GENESAPOE-e4 is the strongest risk gene for Alzheimer’s. This test is most often used in clinical trials to identify people with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Carrying this gene does not indicate whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s or whether a person has Alzheimer’. Such testing is controversial and should only be undertaken after discussion with your physician.
DETERMINISTIC GENESTests are also available for genes that cause a rare form of Alzheimer’s, called Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease (ADAD) or “familial Alzheimer’s”. Some people do not want to know their genetic status, while others want to learn whether they will eventually get the disease. ADAD tends to develop earlier in life and runs strongly in families.

cures and TREATMENTS

There is currently no cure or treatment that will stop or reverse the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. There are however currently four FDA-approved drugs that may be able to relieve symptoms for patients for a limited time such as memory loss. They may slow down the pace at which symptoms worsen for approx. half of people who take them.  The effect lasts for a limited time, on average 6-12 months.

Doctors may prescribe Aricept®, Exelon®, Razadyne® or Galantamine® Moderate to severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be treated with Aricept®, Exelon® and Namenda®. For more information on these products and to access prescribing information, please visit the manufacturers’ websites. 

There are other medications that can be prescribed to control behavorial symptoms such as sleeplessness, agitation, anxiety and depression associated with Alzheimer’s. While treating the symptoms may make situations more comfortable, they may also come with additional side effects. Please consult with your doctor.


Preventing alzheimer's

Research has found that keeping the brain active seems to increase its vitality and may build its reserve of brain cells and connections, even generation of new brain cells. Higher levels of education, and brain activity, appear to have a somewhat protective effect against Alzheimer’s. You could still get Alzheimer’s, but symptoms may appear later.

Do small things to keep active:

  • Brain exercises
  • Read, Write
  • Work, Puzzles
  • Play Games
  • Garden

With an aging population and increasing number of people with Alzheimer’s, and no cure or treatment out there today, the need for Give To Cure has never been greater. It is critical that we help accelerate the pace of research and get treatments to patients that need it most today.